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South finishes SOC schedule 16-0

Travis DeManby (22) and Phil Spangler out-board Crater's Matt Harthun (42) and Mike Jacobs (33).

No. 4 Panthers bury Crater with 67 percent shooting in 96-66 rout

South Medford High's boys basketball team finished off a perfect Southern Oregon Conference season with a 96-point explosion Tuesday night.

The Panthers shot 67 percent from the field (37 for 55) and rolled past the Crater Comets, 96-66, in the South Medford gym.

With the victory, South Medford posted its second perfect SOC season (16-0) in five seasons and ran its five-year league record to 75-5. The Panthers also claimed their third consecutive Southern Oregon Conference championship.

Our kids, especially the seniors, should be proud of what they have accomplished, said South Medford head coach Dennis Murphy. They set high goals, and they've reached most of them.

Seniors Travis DeManby, Adam Decker, James Wightman and Bryn Ritchie combined to score 80 of South's 96 points as the fourth-ranked Panthers improved their overall season record to 22-2.

South opens play in the Class 4A state tournament on March 11 in Portland.

DeManby scored 25 points to lead South. Decker added 21, Wightman 18 and Ritchie 16.

Defensively, we didn't play that well, but our offense was there, said DeManby. We got up and down the floor pretty quick.

But we are going to have to play better than that in the tournament. We have two weeks off to get ready for our first tournament game. I think those two weeks are going to be pretty intense around here.

South Medford jumped to a 24-15 lead late in the first quarter of a run-and-gun shoot-out. Decker scored seven points and DeManby six during the spurt.

Crater junior forward Mike Jacobs and junior wing Matt Brown tried to keep the Comets close as Jacobs scored 10 points in the second quarter and six in the first, while Brown had 10 points by halftime. But the streaking Panthers held a 48-35 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, Wightman, DeManby and Decker led a 20-7 run that gave South a 68-42 lead. Wightman scored nine of 20 points during that run, and DeManby added a tip-in, a 17-foot jumper and two free throws.

Tonight, we didn't get too many defensive stops, said Crater's Matt Meunier, the first- year head coach, who returns 10 underclassmen next season from a 13-11 team. The Comets finished 7-9 in the SOC.

In some cases, we played good defense, but South hit tough shots, said Meunier. It seemed like they made them all.

Jacobs, a 6-4 junior forward, finished with 25 points, while Brown added 21.

My hat goes off to those guys, said Murphy. We couldn't shut them down tonight. They are going to be real tough next year.

Murphy, who helped his players cut down the nets, said his team has to clamp down.

I've heard a lot of coaches and people say this might be the toughest state tournament in five years, said Murphy. I know one thing. If we are going to compete, we are going to have to get up and play better defense.

We showed we can score tonight, said Murphy. But you win tough games at the defensive end.

CRATER (66) -- Stickley 3, Wangle 6, Sinks 2, Foster 3, Jacobs 25, Brown 20, Harthun 3, Shull, Asay 0, Smith 0, Baumgartner 0, Korthals 0. Totals: 27-49 20-24 66.

SOUTH MEDFORD (96) -- DeManby 25, Wightman 18, Ritchie 16, Hilgendorf 2, Schilz 2, Melin 1, Okon 3, Decker 21, Foster 6, Spangler 2. Totals: 37-55 15-21 96.

Crater17 18 14 17 -- 66

South Medford24 24 28 20 -- 96

3-point field goals -- South Medford 5 (Decker 3, Okon 1, Wightman 1, Crater 2 (Stickley 1, Brown 1).

South finishes SOC schedule 16-0